More than 90 Citizen Airmen and four KC-135R Stratotankers from the 507th Air Refueling Wing here returned home Feb. 17 and 19 after supporting deployed air operations against the Islamic State group at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.
The Reservists provided air refueling support to U.S. and coalition forces operating in U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility for Operation Inherent Resolve from Dec. 13, 2016, to Feb. 16.
The 507th’s fleet logged more than 1,100 combat support hours during the deployment, while refueling the B-2 Spirit, the F-15E Strike Eagle, the A-10 Warthog and other various aircraft while providing direct maintenance support for multiple KC-135s and other aircraft stationed at Incirlik Air Base.
The Oklahoma Citizen Airmen joined a team of active duty, guard and Reserve Airmen from nine different bases, making up the 447th Air Expeditionary Group. The total force group became familiar with a multitude of airframes in order to work effectively with different nations.
Senior Airman Jennifer Wagoner of the 507th Maintenance Group said that working with different cultures was a great part of the deployment.
“I’m really thankful for our country, our team and what we did in our missions,” Wagoner said. “We were all very excited to come home. It didn’t really hit us until the pilots announced to the plane, ‘35 minutes out, get everything ready.’”
Being separated from family during the holidays is a challenge, but Wagoner’s husband, Ronnie, said that frequent communication was key while his wife was away.
“We even invested in the international text plan so we could talk,” Ronnie said. “We are just glad she’s home.”
The expeditionary maintenance unit worked around the clock in 12-hour shifts, working together on more than just the KC-135s. They also regularly provided support to fighter, cargo and bomber aircraft maintenance teams.
“It was a good trip,” said Tech. Sgt. Shannon Hielscher of the 507th Maintenance Squadron. “We had a lot of really good people to work with while working some really long hours.”
The 507th ARW is the largest Air Force Reserve Command flying unit in the state of Oklahoma, and the wing’s Reservists primarily live and work in the state. The wing regularly deploys in support of Operation Inherent Resolve with the next large deployment scheduled for this summer.